Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Are You DVD Gorman?

I've had a busy few days promoting the DVD release of Are You Dave Gorman? which means I've been popping up in all sorts of radio and TV shows. It's been a bit odd and time-warpy suddenly having to promote something that I haven't had to talk about for a long time. It's a show I'm very proud of and I've no doubt that it will cast a shadow over everything else I do for a very long time to come. I'm more comfortable with that now than I was a couple of years ago.

There was a time when I felt a little trapped by the show because every offer that seemed to come in was relating to it in some way. For me, it was just one of many storytelling shows I'd done but because it was the first one that I allowed to transfer to TV there were loads of people out there who thought it was the first and only thing I'd ever done.

Actually, I think there are still people out there who think that.

At the time, I (obviously) hoped people would like the series and think, 'That's a funny story, well told. I wonder what other stories he might have up his sleeve' but instead it felt like people thought, 'Ha ha... that man is obsessed with his namesakes... I hope he finds some more... he is the namesake-man and must live forever on a permanent namesake hunting quest because THAT is what he does.'

I got offered loads of money to licence 'Stop Me If You're A Dave Gorman' T-shirts and other nonsensical merchandise that would have encouraged the idea that I was looking for every Dave Gorman in the world - something that the show had never claimed because... well, because it wasn't true. I was offered walk-on parts in all sorts of stuff where the basic premise always seemed to be the same: I turn up at the door, ask if there's anyone called Dave Gorman there and then leave when they tell me there isn't. I hated it all and said no to everything.

I think if I'd done it I would have been selling a cartoonish version of myself, sort of like when a David Dickinson character suddenly bubbles up to the surface for a year or two and makes a fortune running around the world saying 'Cheap as chips!' and 'Bobby Dazzler' for anyone who'll pay him. It's bound to exhaust itself isn't it? Isn't it? I mean it's obvious that it's just a facade. The whole point about the show was that it was a true story so carrying on with it after it was over in some weird fake way would only serve to undo the whole thing in time.

Maybe I'd be living in a bigger house right now if I'd taken the shilling and sold that version of myself to the world but I doubt I'd be very happy and I doubt I'd be very employable either. You could hardly convince an audience you had another true story to tell them if you'd spent two or three years obviously pretending to be something you're not.

Looking back I think the pressure was really on the Googlewhack Adventure show to compete with it in some way. As both a stageshow and a book it was more successful in any measurable way so I guess it did compete - as well as directly railing against the perception of me as one of those (shudder) wacky-bet-guys. (Self-indulgent? Me? Surely not.)

I think my inbox is probably as good a guide as any as to what projects dominate people's imaginations and from the day Are You Dave Gorman? first started on BBC2 my inbox was just flooded with e-mails relating to that one show. Even right through the broadcast of my Important Astrology Experiment, it was namesakes-related e-mails that kept on flooding in... despite the fact that I wasn't doing anything to stoke the fire.

Since the Googlewhack Adventure though things have been different... I get more e-mails about that than anything else these days, quite a few about Genius, The Daily Show and what have you and while there are always a fair few asking about Are You Dave Gorman? they tend to be asking more sensible questions about it and are less obsessed by the idea that I'm obsessed with it than they once were. It all makes the release of the DVD a much happier thing for me because it no longer feels like I'm selling the idea that this-is-all-I-do... instead I'm just glad that a show I'm really very proud of is out there for anyone who wants it. I'd hate for it to disappear completely... I just don't want it to be the only thing I appear to have done.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oh yeah... and it's quite close to the railway.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


CCTV, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Tesco, Bethnal Green.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Non-expertly experting.

Yesterday I was asked to appear on Richard & Judy for a discussion about youtube. I agreed to do it. Normally I'd put something up here in advance of that kind of thing, but I didn't have time yesterday as I spent the day whizzing around town talking to various journalists about the impending DVD release of Are You Dave Gorman?

Anyway, I was going to write a few words to explain why I agreed to take part but then I realised I'd already done so. What follows is an entry I wrote back in August last year... simply swap the word youtube for the word blogging and you've got a pretty good explanation down already. �

One of the things that I find odd about my work is that when I do a show in which I demonstrate my lack of expertise in a field, people then start to treat me like an expert. I still regularly receive e-mails from strangers that ask me if I can help them track down a long-lost friend or similar because Are You Dave Gorman? has convinced them that I'm some kind of brilliant person-hunter. I would have thought that anyone who'd watched the show or read the book would understand that I was no expert.

Similarly, when my Important Astrology Experiment was on air I started getting asked questions about star-signs that were entirely irrelevant. I distnctly remember one journalist asking me to tell her what Librans were supposed to be like and when I told her I didn't have the first idea she basically said, "Well why on earth do you think you can present a series about astrolgy then?" It wasn't really worth explaining that I wasn't presenting-a-series-about-astrology but instead telling-a-story-about-something-I'd-experienced. She'd been sent a tape of the show.

Since my Googlewhack Adventure has taken over as thing-I-get-asked-about-most-often I seem to have been filed away on some kind of TV research database as man-who-knows-about-the-internet. I don't especially and again, anyone who'd seen the show or read the book would understand that there's nothing about it that makes a claim to any expertise.

But that doesn't stop the phone from ringing every time there's an internet-related news story someone wants to discuss on TV. If Google's shares suddenly shoot up (or down) in price the phone rings and someone is inviting me to appear on a news programme to discuss it. I always refuse these invites because I don't really have an opinion and even if I did I don't really see how it would be a) more informed than anyone else's or b) relevant to the story.

For this reason I was a little sceptical when my agent rang to ask me if I was interested in taking part in a discussion about blogging and almost said an automatic 'no' in reply. I'm not an expert in the field, and I know nothing about the technology either.

But then two magic words were used. Richard and Judy. They are such genuinely lovely company that there is little I won't do for R&J.�

When the researcher called me to ask about my youtube use, one of the things I mentioned was that I really liked Adam Buxton's stuff. I think Adam is brilliant and that his use of youtube is really exciting... really I was thinking that they should have asked Adam to appear and not me because he really does know about it.

As I mentioned it I was a bit worried that I might be grassing him up in a way because amongst his brilliant youtube bits is this very funny redubbing of an R&J You Say, We Pay clip. (Maybe not safe for work, by the way.) On balance the chances of them not knowing about the clip when researching an item like that were pretty slim and the chances of them being annoyed by it and demanding it be taken down were even slimmer so I didn't worry too much.

In the end, when I turned up I was delighted to see that they'd invited Adam on to talk about it as well. Also there were a couple who have recently had a bit of a youtube hit with a video clip of their wedding day first dance; a secretly rehearsed Dirty Dancing routine. They were very nice too.

Of course if you want to talk about youtube on telly you have to show some clips and by the time we got to the discussion they'd found loads of good ones (including a cleaned up version of Adam's R&JYSWP bit) and so really all we had to do was laugh at floating dogs and men on rollerskates. Fun. �

Friday, February 2, 2007

Writing. (And doodling)

Writing's an odd job. I love it and yet at times I detest it. I think writing non-fiction is pretty much a problem-solving exercise: all of the information is already there, you just need to find the right way to put it together. In my more self-confident moments I think I'm a pretty good problem solver. I think fiction writing involves a different skill altogether. You have to set the puzzle as well as solve it. Which is a ridiculous thing to do... how would you go about solving your own crossword? It would be so simple as to be no fun at all.

Unlike most jobs, I find the less I've achieved in a day, the harder I feel I've worked. It's a much more mentally exhausting day if I spend it staring at a blank screen and racking my brains and only come away with a couple of hundred words added. Rattling off a couple of thousand words is nowhere near as taxing. You just can't choose what kind of writing day you're going to have. It depends how hard the problem is.

I think maybe I should join the cry to have Big Brother taken from our screens. Not because it offends me (although parts of it do) but because it distracts me. Throughout the duration of the series just gone I have struggled to write. I don't think I ever went to bed feeling satisfied with my day's work and I've started most mornings by trashing much of what I'd done the day before. But now the series is done and dusted things have started to flow again. Was it Big Brother's fault? Was I so upset by scenes of possible racism and certain bullying that I was somehow rendered less able to concentrate on the task in hand? Or is the timing just a coincidence? I honestly don't know. But I'm glad this isn't a World Cup year or this book would never get done.

Oh, by the way, you probably don't know it but later this month it will be National Doodle Day. It's a fund raising shebang for Epilepsy Action and I've supported the event along with a host of other people - many of whom are actually celebrities. The doodles will all be auctioned on eBay and you can vote for your favourite doodle too. You can see mine and find out more,here.

I noticed yesterday that Christopher Timothy is no longer starring in the BBC daytime soap, Doctors. Presumably he was struck off when they realised he was a vet and not a doctor. At last.�